The highs are no poll-related offences, no major EVM breakdown, and webcasting

gh the district administration lauded itself for the nearly glitch-free electoral process, with only a 1.83 percentage points increase in votes polled, the post-poll analysis did reveal the failure of the Systematic Voters' Education And Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme.

The programme which included telecasting mime shows, paragliding, kite flying, cultural shows organised across the district has, prima facie, little to suggest it has worked.

The polling percentage in 2008 was 73.08 per cent, and the turnout this time was 74.48 per cent. Taking into consideration the more than 6,000 postal ballots, the increase is just 1.83 percentage points.

While refusing to comment on the success of the programme, Deputy Commissioner Harsh Gupta told presspersons on Monday that as the district always had high voter turnouts, the percentage increase does not give an indication of the efficacy of the programme.

“It has worked in rural areas where there is a higher turnout. This is an inexpensive programme. The Election Commission had given Rs. 2.5 lakh per constituency, of which Rs. 1.25 lakh were allotted as incentives to Block Level Officers who can increase voter turnouts. The rest was pumped into programmes,” he said

Another concept that did not take off as expected in the elections was voter facilitation by providing transport. Mr. Gupta said the idea had failed, and found marginal success in places like Kukke Subramanya. “We received approval only three days before the polling, and could not publicise this enough. But, it is a good concept and will be developed further,” he said.

However, there was a lot on offer for the district administration to be cheerful about. There were no major poll-related offences, or serious cases of electronic voting machine breakdown. According to the Deputy Commissioner, though nine electoral voting machines were replaced before the elections and eight replaced during the polling, there was no inordinate delay.

Another positive for the administration was webcasting, where polling was streamed live online. Out of a targeted 400 polling stations, 272 were covered, with 151 booths in Mangalore South forming the majority.

“The others could not be covered due to technical problems, bandwidth issues or in places like Sullia, electricity outages were a problem. However, the number covered is the highest in the State,” said Mr. Gupta.

Other successful “concepts” included the distribution of smartphones to officials to cover polling violations and a centralised grievance redressal centre in the form of 1077 control room, said Mr. Gupta.

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